It's Working Project

"Five weeks before my son was due, I told my husband and employees, 'I am starting my maternity leave tomorrow.' The next morning at 6 AM my water broke."

Did you always know you would go back to work after starting a family? Why or why not?

I did because 7 months before I became pregnant with my first son I started my own business, South Coast CrossFit. It was a dream of mine to change peoples lives and inspire others through health and fitness. 

Tell us about your planning for your new child – timed around your career? Not at all? Share the skinny!

I was planning to take the normal 6 weeks off. I began training the stand-in for my classes 3 months before my due date. Five weeks before my son was due, I told my husband and employees, “I am starting my maternity leave tomorrow” because I had not had any time to plan or prepare for the baby, his needs, or room. The next morning at 6 AM my water broke. I had my son the following day, 5 weeks and 2 days early. He was in the NICU for 15 days. I did not go back to work like I had planned until 6 months later. The whole experience rattled me a little, and I became a full-time new mom.  

What was your biggest initial concern and/or obstacle to going back to work after starting a family?

My concern was not being there for him, missing special moments. I worry about how well he will be cared for by others. I am his mom. I was not away from Ashton longer than 3 hours at a time his whole first year and a half of life. I have become a little more relaxed with my second son, but I am never far from him either. 

What factors contributed to your chosen feeding method?

Breast feeding until they self-wean. It is so important for their development, immunity, and confidence (sense of comfort). Ashton was breast fed till 14 months and Kellan is 10 months and still going with 6 little teeth. Kellan decided at 6 months he preferred only 1 breast, so I have been lopsided for the past 4 months. Many, including my doctor, have suggested I can stop breast feeding, but I believe its purpose far out weighs vanity getting in the way. 

If you are in a relationship, how did you decide which partner would go back to work? What issues factored into that decision?

We both own our own businesses. We are lucky we trade off. We have never had anyone babysit our boys, except for my parents and my husband’s only a handful of times. We both love to work and what we do, so we try to support each other’s goals and dreams while raising our boys.

Have you, or a partner, paid it forward as a parent in the workplace? Tell us a bit more.

We let our employees and clients bring their children if they need to. We also started a non-profit called Uplifting Lives to support children who are temporarily or permanently wards of the state or orphaned till a permanent home-solution for them is found. We support them through our empowering fitness program, fundraising the costs of the program, and also provided a coach who cares about helping them feel empowered and find consistency in our program. We are blessed to be so available to our children and there are children who need our love and care. We are trying to help these children feel supported and cared for. 

How did you work with your doctor, adoption agency, or Human Resources department to plan for your family leave and return?

I am lucky I am the boss. 

If you returned to work, when did your confidence around work kick in? How long did the adjustment take (or are you still adjusting?)

The confidence didn’t kick back in till after having my second son. I really was left feeling a lack of confidence around my self-image and being a new mom.  

What, if any, advice would you give to employers to ease strain around family leave and returning to the workplace?

I would support them as much as you can. The more time you can give, the more committed the employee will be to you and your company. They grow up so fast, and it is a huge adjustment becoming a parent. If you can support a 3/4 day schedule, I think the quality and hard work goes up considerably. 

A good day is when:

I am holding, hugging my two little boys and they are giggling like crazy. 

What I wish I had known:

It was going to be this amazing. Being a mom is the most wonderful gift and I am present each and every day with my boys. I haven’t missed any of their special moments. I am very blessed I have been there. 

One mistake I learned the hard way:

Trust the process, things will get easier. I carried a lot of stress the first 6 months. I would give myself a break. Doing anything well takes learning and time.